Today I am beginning a series on practical spirituality. For the next few weeks, the articles will focus on simple, day to day activities that help facilitate your relationship with God in a practical manner. The first installment in the series is sleep.
Sleep, first and foremost, is a gift of God. Listen to the words of Psalm 127:2.
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” [ESV]
The first thing we need to understand is that any time we rest our head on the pillow and we drift off into sweet unconsciousness, we are receiving a gift from God. Take a moment to ponder that. Something you and I cannot do without, something that we do each night without even thinking about it, is a direct gift from our Father in heaven who calls us His beloved. How amazing is that!
But that isn’t what I want to emphasize today. I want to emphasize the fact that without adequate sleep, we will never live up to the calling God has called us to. Let me say that again.
Without adequate sleep, we will never live up to the calling God has called us to.
My job requires me to get up at 6 in the morning. I try to go to bed by 10, but as a full-time student who is trying to balance school, work, and family, that doesn’t always happen. Some nights I’m lucky to get five hours of sleep. That might work for some people, but for me I need at a minimum 7 hours of sleep to feel adequately rested.
When I don’t get those 7 hours, my life is adversely affected. I am groggy, my emotions are unstable, I am easily irritable, and I go through my day with a general feeling of anxiety.
In turn, this affects my spiritual life. I’m less likely to spend time studying the Word, I’m more prone to wayward thoughts, and I’m weaker in the face of temptation. It makes the day a challenge.
This is dangerous for the believer. We might go week after week without adequate sleep and wonder to ourselves, What is going on? Why is each day such a struggle? Why are my emotions so overpowering? Why am I so irritable? Why is my relationship with God not what it should be? And we may agonize over ourselves with relentless introspection so that we might pinpoint the problem.
All the while, lack of sleep is the culprit. By no means is sleep the cure-all for spiritual struggles. Hear me on that. But many times, sleep can steal fervor for God right out from under us. It’s something our bodies need, but so often something we deprive ourselves of in the name of productivity.
So Christian, prioritize sleep. Set a schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night. Wake up at a consistent time. Don’t make sleep an afterthought.
You know your body better than anybody, so you know how much sleep you need to function. Some people need more than others. If that’s you, don’t feel bad. I’m one of those people too. Lack of sleep affects me much more than many of my close Christian brothers and sisters.
Know yourself and adapt your schedule accordingly. And sleep, brothers and sisters in Christ! Not just so you’ll be in a better mood, but so that you will be a more effective disciple of Christ.
Sleep to the glory of God.